When we say God lifts us, we inadvertently acknowledge our fallen state before His intervention. Unfortunately, when we appreciate the lifting hands of God, we do not openly accept our fallen state. After lifting us from our fallen state, God once and for all forgives our past sins, yet once He will make us remember all our past sins to help us differentiate our lives before salvation and after. Thus we will understand the unconditional love of God. In this Psalm, God compared the past sinful life of the Psalmist with that of the present and made him remember the days he was in a slimy pit. Three main things strike us down in a snare. First and foremost among them is lust, the second is approaching situations with the attitude of failure, and the third is self-reliance. This Psalm helps us reminisce about the days we lived without God to appreciate life after salvation.
Waiting Patiently For God
I waited patiently for the LORD;Psalms 40:1-2 (NIV)
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
Awaiting God does not mean He is busy and will attend to us sooner. Instead, God is waiting and is not far from us to fulfil our needs (Acts 17:27). To meet this omnipotent God, we should wait by setting aside all our anxieties. The Psalmist patiently waited for God to lift him from his sinful condition. There is a saying that waiting is psychological torture. Of course, humans can not wait for a long time. When Moses took a long time at the top of Mount Sinai, people got confused and made a calf for them to worship. God created us as worshipping creatures. By default, we can not stop worship; hence when waiting for God appears as psychological torture, we tend to worship His resources. When people became impatient, they mistook the calf for God, that saved their lives from the angel of death.
The Psalmist compared his place of captivity to a slimy pit with mud and mire, which resembles the rural areas where children often fell into an uncovered tubewell. In that situation, the tubewell is surrounded by dry, solid land for the rescuers to work on. But here, the Psalmist explained the difficulty of being rescued because the slimy pit is amidst a stretch of land with mud. While the slimy pit smothers us, the surrounding mire deters the rescuers from saving us. God is the only one who can rescue us from that dangerous situation, and He sets our feet in a firm place by carrying us along the muddy stretch of land.
He put a new song in my mouth,Psalms 40:3-4 (NIV)
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.
Blessed is the one
who trusts in the LORD,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Every day with fresh and new grace, God uniquely redresses our problems. God wants to use us mightily as His instruments to draw the people near Him. We can be an effective instrument in His hands when we realize the newness of His grace. Initially, His grace saves us, and grace upon previous grace helps us to experience His love. Often we quote others’ experiences as their statements without exercising the love of God. Often our spiritual experiences are like the Barmecide Feast. The phrase Barmecide feast denotes any pretended or illusionary gesture. It refers to a story in The Arabian Nights Entertainments, in which a prince named Barmecide invites a poor, starving man to a sumptuous feast where all the dishes are imaginary.
We hear about the testimonies of others in Christ and assume those as our illusionary experiences. We should not take into account the testimonies of others at the surface level, but we should understand how and when they encountered the love of God and should long for that love. This approach will unfold the treasures hidden in His word, and new songs will erupt from the heart. We will sing them with enthusiasm and genuine involvement. Else, we will keep enjoying the old songs to cheer us while our souls remain in the darkness.
Too Many To Declare
Blessed is the onePsalms 40:4-5 (NIV)
who trusts in the LORD,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
Leaving aside everything and trusting in God is the ultimate thing one should achieve. The Psalmist had arrived at that stage and appreciated the people who do not rely on influential people but on God. When we do not have God, our minds will thirst for meaningless relationships and friendships. Once we practice walking with God, we will not be inclined to other sources but only trust God.
When people lament their agony, they might say that pains are too many to declare. When we rely on other sources, our pains and sorrows will multiply. But once we turn to God, He will reveal His plans for our lives. Then, we would not find words to explain His marvellous acts because it would be too many.
I Have Come
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—Psalms 40:6-8
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
As David lived a sinful life at some stages of his life, it is hard to attribute the above verses to the life of David. Rather than David, it suits Jesus, who read the scroll of Isaiah in a Synagogue. Later, the author of the Book of Hebrews recorded this conversation of Jesus with His Father (Hebrews 10:5-7).
While waiting for God, probably to get answers to his prayer, David had a unique experience of hearing the conversation between the Son and the Father in Heaven. When David waited for God, the distance between Earth and Heaven became lesser, and he overheard the whispers of God. Unlike the time of David, with the coming of Jesus, the kingdom has come to us, and the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts. Do we hear the voices of heaven or the noise of this world?
By spending time at the feet of God, the writer has understood the worthlessness of sacrifices and offering by comparing them with God’s mercy and love. Especially when we offer sin offerings, the sins committed grieve God, and the offerings do not please Him. Rather than committing sin and offering sacrifices, God wants obedience at first instance. As there was none to obey Him, Jesus came down to obey His Father in all areas of His life. God wants us to surrender our lives well before our breath stops (Romans 12:1).
I Speak Of Your Faithfulness
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;Psalms 40:9-10
I do not seal my lips, LORD,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
God is faithful even when we are unfaithful. We can not realize His faithfulness until we trust and love Him. The Psalmist declared the saving acts of the LORD in public. This declaration came from his personal experience. We should learn to have this one-to-one experience with God. Without overcoming the basic temptations, trying to declare the faithfulness of God using the Psalms, Hymnals, and other liturgies will not bring any change in us. While singing these Hymns, we should learn to overcome the situation as they did. When God helps us to overcome every difficult circumstance, we can not conceal His love and faithfulness from others.
Hymns are the outcome of the joy the writers have received from God despite difficulties. Their difficult situations never changed, but they got a different approach to the problems with the grace of God. Not understanding this, people sing these songs to change the situation and do not adapt any changes in their approach.
Troubles Surround Me
Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;Psalms 40:11-13 (NIV)
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, LORD;
come quickly, LORD, to help me.
Who in this world could say that I do not have any trouble? Trials and tribulations are usual occurrences of life. But these problems will not last forever because there is an exit for our problems (1 Corinthians 10:13). God is faithful to His covenant made with Abraham, and gave His only Son to redeem us when our sins matured to bring death. Subsequently, Jesus took the sins of all humans on Him, yet His Father was pleased to save Him along with His brothers and sisters.
God’s mercy surrounds us substantially when we have troubles. God is always bigger than our problems (1 John 4:4). Despite knowing this truth, we grade our problems as enormous than God. God sends forth His mercy but seldom reveals it openly to us, but expects us to see His grace through our spiritual eyes (2 Corinthians 4:4).
You Are My God
But may all who seek youPsalms 40:16-17
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.
At the end of this Psalm, the writer proclaimed that God gives salvation to all who seek Him (Romans 10:13). We should remember this when we see our fellow citizens. There is only one God to save people from eternal death. Despite the various mediums people use to find God, God is merciful to nurture them and does not hesitate to love them. God’s people seldom disseminate this truth to others. Without disclosing the goodness of God, they will try to place themselves or their organization as a source to attain the love of God.
While encouraging others to trust the saving hands of God, the writer once again committed himself to God. Though God has given us sonship, we should not forget that our Heavenly Father is the God of this universe. It is a privilege to have the God of the universe as our Father, and the Father will never delay in extending His helping hand to their forgiven children.
Dear God, thank you for lifting us from the slimy pit and making us stand on the firm ground. Help us to reveal your unconditional love to our fellow citizens.